Harmony Thomas found her calling while working in a jewelry store in her hometown of Sisters, OR, (population 2,071) when she was just 17. From the beginning, she loved seeing what artists create and sharing it with others. Thomas has been general manager of Silverado Jewelry Gallery, which has a staff of eight, since it opened in Bend, OR, 11 years ago. Thomas works very closely with owner Heather Hanst, while freeing up Hanst to work remotely. “We work well together because we’re different,” Hanst says. “We balance each other out. I’m very outspoken and reactionary and she’s patient. She processes things, and thinks and takes her time.” Hanst describes Thomas as loyal, solid and steady — and most important — she has a great sense of humor. “We laugh all the time,” Hanst says. When not on the job, Thomas enjoys photography, painting and gardening, but her main focus is on her husband Brian and their children Tarren, 6, and Cora, 3, who are at an age at which “the world is a place of great discovery.”
- When hiring, I look for somebody who can reach out to a customer to figure out how they can make their day, someone who can pick up on a sense of urgency in a shopper, or if somebody needs an hour to decide, to make that happen. You have to be able to be patient because in selling jewelry, sometimes we are therapists. Sometimes, they are going to throw it all out on the table before they buy a pair of earrings.
- When I’m shopping, I love it when I’m approached and then given some space to look. I love to be acknowledged. If I don’t get acknowledged I generally will leave.
- We are not commission-based, so I look for someone who can work with a team and work as a group. That’s something we go into in depth in our interviews. Everybody gives each other pats on the back, and it still feels good to make a sale.
- The best thing we can hear on the sales floor is when a customer asks a sales associate, “Are you the owner?”
- We train in how we want people to be approached and how to have a co-worker come and help you with a sale.
- We motivate staff with gratitude and kindness, and a lot of fun bonuses. In the past, we have had get-togethers and gone out bowling.
- Sharing the information about the artist with the staff is key because I want the staff to be as excited about the collections as I am. When I know new collections are coming in I work really hard at telling them about the diamonds and the metals and the price points.
- Having an open-door style of communication is important; if someone is having a bad day, I will pick up on it and work with them. I have to watch everybody’s level of energy and see how I can help boost it along through the day.
- Give 'Em the Pickle, by motivational speaker Bob Farrell is one of our favorite books, and we ask all staff that are joining the team, to read “the Pickle book.”
- My customers trust me because I give them a sense of confidence that I know what I’m doing and I’m going to take care of them whether selling a new piece or if something has broken and needs to be repaired. I just fill them with confidence.
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 edition of INSTORE.
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